Journal of Traumatic Stress. Advance online publication.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a significant mental health issue among military service members and veterans. Although the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides crucial resources for behavioral health care, many veterans seek mental health services through community clinics. Previous research illustrates that military and veteran patients benefit less from evidence-based treatments (EBTs) for PTSD than civilians. However, most PTSD treatment outcome research on military and veteran populations is conducted in VA or military settings. Little is known about outcomes among military-affiliated patients in community settings. The primary aim of this study was to directly compare civilian versus military-affiliated patient outcomes on PTSD and depression symptoms using the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) and the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) in a community setting. Participants (N = 502) included military-affiliated (veteran, Guard/Reservist, active duty) and civilian patients who engaged in cognitive processing therapy (CPT) or prolonged exposure (PE) for PTSD in community clinics. Both groups demonstrated significant reductions on the PCL-5, military-affiliated: d = -0.91, civilian: d = -1.18; and PHQ-9, military-affiliated: d = -0.65, civilian: d = -0.88, following treatment. However, military-affiliated patients demonstrated smaller posttreatment reductions on the PCL-5, Mdiff = 5.75, p = .003, and PHQ-9, Mdifff = 1.71, p = .011, compared to civilians. Results demonstrate that military-affiliated patients benefit from EBTs for PTSD, albeit to a lesser degree than civilians, even in community settings. These findings also highlight the importance of future research on improving EBTs for military personnel with PTSD.